Westpac Group has launched a major new online learning and business knowledge platform for finance brokers, thought to be one of the largest broker learning pathways of its kind.
The new Broker Academy has been developed by Westpac Group in conjunction with global training digital disruptor GO1.com and in consultation with industry partners, including the Commercial & Asset Finance Brokers Association of Australia (CAFBA) and the Institute of Strategic Management (ISM), to provide “one of the most comprehensive integrated online learning and business knowledge platforms available to help support finance brokers in Australia”.
The online education portal connects brokers with up to 5,000 CPD-approved courses ranging from compliance, sales, marketing, contract law negotiation, management, wellbeing and hard and soft skills training.
Open to all brokers in Australia, but specifically focusing on finance broking, the online platform offers brokers 15 free introductory courses to help them run their business through each life cycle: launch, growth, shake-out and decline.
Brokers are also able to access a premium version on a subscription basis that provides them with access to 5,000 courses, as well as opt to complete CAFBA’s Cert IV training or a Diploma of Financial Services course via ISM (undertaken face-to-face and online).
All CPD certificates are then stored on the platform for the broker to refer back to.
The platform has been built with feedback from industry partners, aggregators and brokers to help address the issue that brokers may be facing in the finance broking space, and to provide a consistent method of training to industry.
Filling a “recognised development shortfall”
Speaking to The Adviser, Westpac Group’s national head of commercial intermediaries, Janelle Pearce, revealed that the development of the online learning portal came after attending an “unsinspiring” professional development day on commercial lending, and wanting to offer brokers a more interactive and accessible way of learning that addressed “a recognised development shortfall”.
“This concept began over two years ago, pre the royal commission,” she said. “A lot of hard work has gone into developing this, and it’s been a two-year journey to get us to where we are now.
“But it’s the catch cry we have here at Westpac: we’ve got to help brokers grow. And whether it’s growing in their business that they’re running, or themselves as a person, it’s just about giving back.
“We obviously support the industry wholeheartedly. But this is a way for us to demonstrate how much we love this industry and support it.”
Ms Pearce noted that the Broker Academy was therefore open to all brokers, regardless of whether they are Westpac-accredited, and available 24/7.
She commented: “This isn’t about Westpac. It’s really about helping brokers. Westpac has a philosophy of helping. So, for us, if we’re going to do this properly, we’re going to help our brokers and provide that opportunity to everyone, not just to brokers who transact with Westpac, or have an accreditation of us.”
The range of courses available through the platform caters for all levels of expertise, ranging from those training to become brokers, through to mortgage brokers or asset finance “just starting to learn about commercial” and established commercial finance brokers looking to continue their professional development and build out other skills.
“The Broker Academy is comprehensive, so it’s not only commercial lending. There is so much content on the Broker Academy, pretty much anything that you’re curious about; as a business professional, you can find something to further develop and grow,” Ms Pearce said.
She added that the Broker Academy marks a significant milestone in the development of Westpac Group’s third-party approach to ongoing education to help brokers manage current and future challenges in the marketplace.
“Broker education in Australia is undergoing significant change,” she said.
“The Broker Academy supports brokers in the current disrupted finance environment, where technology advancement is creating demand for new sets of broker skills. New priorities mean new ways of delivering the broker education journey with clarity, simplicity and in an innovative way.”
In order to help continually build and develop the Broker Academy, the bank’s national head of commercial intermediaries said that Westpac would be launching a Broker Academy Council to “guide, inform and capture the key voice of broker insights every quarter”.
“We are headed for exciting times as we explore opportunities to realise the benefits of greater collaboration across the industry,” she said.
The co-founder of GO1, Vu Tran, told The Adviser that the platform curates suitable courses (as determined by focus groups with industry) like the “Netflix of training” and will continually liaise with industry and the broker council to curate and update the portal with new, relevant content.
“The goal with the Broker Academy is to have those curated pathways updated on a quarterly basis. So, it’s constantly being changed; it’s not built once and left that way forever. It’s got to evolve. And I think one of the things you’ll see is that the academy we have today will be different tomorrow. And in fact, it has to be different.”
Mr Vu said he hoped the platform would enable brokers to continually learn, and noted that it could be “massively beneficial” for regional brokers, who may not be able to attend city-based professional development days as frequently or easily as their metro counterparts.
“The workforce is changing, it’s not a nine-to-five job, is it? It’s the concept of being flexible in what you do, and we need to adapt learning to that.
“So, I think it’s a fantastic opportunity that this platform has been developed by a 200-year business that is so forward-thinking it recognises the need to allow education to adapt to the needs of the individual.”
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Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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